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Panksepp, J. (2011). Antonio Damasio: Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. New York: Pantheon, 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-37875-0, 384 pp., $28.95/£25. Neuropsychoanalysis, 13(2):205-217.

(2011). Neuropsychoanalysis, 13(2):205-217

Book Reviews

Antonio Damasio: Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. New York: Pantheon, 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-37875-0, 384 pp., $28.95/£25 Related Papers

Review by:
Jaak Panksepp

A personal perspective on Antonio Damasio's vision of brain/mind evolution in Self Comes to Mind. Is there only one type of consciousness? And was William James right about the origins of emotional feelings?

We all know that the gap between neuronal function and subjective experience remains unbridged. In the current generation, Antonio Damasio has been among the more vigorous pioneers to begin constructing the requisite bridges. In his most recent effort, Self Comes to Mind (henceforth SCM), Damasio once again recruits his deep knowledge and imagination to move forward this critically important neuroscientific project.

For general readers, this is a terrific book—an intriguing journey through the human mind, the self, and consciousness. For those immersed in either thinking or working on these issues, there are bound to be many bones of contention. That should be no surprise. It is standard practice in science, especially when confusion and controversy stubbornly prevail in areas that abound with fascinating but empirically unresolved issues. In the arena of consciousness studies, there are currently abundant verbal solutions, and abundant neural correlates, but rather little causal neuroscientific data. My goal here will be to give an overview of SCM and then gnaw a bit on some of the remaining contentions. I regret how long this review has turned out to be, but that is largely due to the fact that it turned out to be very difficult to review this remarkable book, partly because Damasio was explicitly moving toward my own long-held position, but often in ways that seemed, in my estimation, more compelling than they actually were.

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